SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America’s recently launched #NotAnAccident Index and interactive map, a first-of-its-kind tracking of unintentional shootings by children 17 or under across the United States shows California suffered at least five unintentional shootings involving children, resulting in five injuries and one death in 2015—including shootings in Fresno, Gilroy, Linda and Victorville.
Nationally the #NotAnAccident Index indicates that since January 1, 2015, there have been at least 88 unintentional shootings involving children, resulting in 65 injuries and 25 deaths—that’s an average of one unintentional child shooting in America every 36 hours. The index is based on media coverage and police reports of instances where a child 17 years or younger unintentionally fired a gun and harmed either him or herself or another person.
“As a parent, I am shocked by how often we see unintentional child shootings here in California,” said Jen Reidy, volunteer with the California chapter of Moms Demand Action. “Everytown for Gun Safety research has shown that once every 36 hours a child unintentionally fires a gun and harms someone. As adults, we need to do everything we can to protect children from these preventable tragedies.”
The California shootings on the #NotAnAccident Index are:
• January 18, 2015, Fresno, CA
A 14-year-old boy was attempting to scare his ex-girlfriend when he unintentionally shot himself in the leg. When he found his ex-girlfriend’s vehicle outside the home of her new boyfriend, the 14-year-old fired a .22 caliber rifle several times in the air. The gun jammed, and while trying to clear it, he shot himself in the leg. The teen was treated for his injury and then booked into the Fresno County Juvenile Hall for endangering the public.
• February 12, 2015, Fresno, CA
A Madera County sheriff’s lieutenant was getting ready for work when he set his handgun on the bed and went to use the bathroom. The magazine had been removed from the weapon, but there was still a round in the chamber. His ten-year-old daughter grabbed the gun and it discharged, hitting and injuring his eight-year-old daughter. The sheriff’s lieutenant was not disciplined.
• April 19, 2015 Victorville, CA
15-year-old Xavier Minefield shot and killed 16-year-old Dakota Washington. Police said the shooting was unintentional but charged Minniefield with involuntary manslaughter.
• May 2, 2015 Linda, CA
A 17-year-old boy was cleaning a gun when he pulled the slide and it slipped, firing a bullet through the wall where it hit two of his sisters, ages six and eight, who were sleeping on the bed in the next room. Both girls were transported to an area hospital with non-life threatening injuries. The gun was removed from the home, and police have ruled the shooting unintentional.
• May 4, 2015 Gilroy, CA
A 13-year-old girl unintentionally shot herself in the leg after finding a handgun belonging to her stepfather, a Gilroy Police officer. She was treated at a local hospital for non-life threatening injuries. Police are investigating the incident, and a preliminary investigation concluded that the gun was the officer’s privately owned handgun, and not his service weapon.
In efforts to reduce the number of shootings by children, Everytown and Moms Demand Action recently launched the Be SMART campaign, a new public education campaign asking gun owners and non-gun owners alike to come together to reduce the number of unintentional shootings, suicides, and homicides that occur when firearms are not stored responsibly and children or teens get ahold of a gun. The campaign asks parents and caretakers to take five steps to help prevent shootings by children: Secure all guns in your home and vehicles; Model responsible behavior around guns; Ask about the presence of unsecured guns in other homes; Recognize the risks of teen suicide; Tell your peers to be SMART. More information on Be SMART is available at BeSMARTforKids.org.
“The Be SMART campaign is a great way to get Californians to discuss gun safety,” continued Jen Reidy. “This campaign is not anti-gun, it’s pro-gun safety. We have the ability to prevent unintentional child shootings, and the conversation begins with the Be SMART campaign.”
As part of the Be SMART campaign to promote gun safety in communities nationwide, Everytown and Moms Demand Action will provide one gunlock for every supporter who completes the online gun safety quiz on BeSMARTforKids.org to Moms Demand Action chapters to distribute at local gun safety awareness events.